The monthly Boardwalk Committee meeting was held on April 10, 2019. Here are some key take-aways from that meeting.
Dale Finch of L&I was scheduled to discuss the City’s boarding house regulations and guidelines, as well as what is being done with abandoned properties throughout the City and the people who live in these buildings. Mr. Finch was unable to attend.
Abandoned properties create a danger to first responders when these properties catch fire, and the buildings must be searched for inhabitants.
Owners of these properties often “get around” the judicial regulations governing boarding houses, and it is difficult for the police as well as code enforcement personnel to enforce City regulations when there are state regulations that contradict the City’s codes.
Jim Kennedy of AC Econ Policy: AC Implementation Plan under estimates the capital resources needed, how deep rooted the AC corrupt civic culture runs, & ignores ticking bomb of NJ/NYC casinos.
$500,000 has been earmarked for Boardwalk repairs and renovations, and that the work is scheduled to begin soon.
A beach smoking ban will go into effect this summer. Enforcement could be challenging.
Police Department Update: Rudy Lushina of ACPD discussed the hiring and assignment of Class 2 Officers for the 2019 season.
The new program where officers will be assigned to patrol specific voting wards (as opposed to precincts) is scheduled to get underway within the next few months. Selection of the officers and training should start in mid-May.
There are 15 new officers coming onto the force; 12 of them will be assigned to the wards and will be on patrol in two shifts from 6 a.m.-1 a.m. daily. In addition to general police duties, they will serve as neighborhood liaisons who will help residents navigate City government.
The officers will not be primary emergency contacts (people should call 911 for all emergencies), but will be active in the communities to help handle and resolve ongoing problems and issues such as trash, abandoned properties, neighborhood disputes, etc. They will help address other long-term issues and will hopefully facilitate things that are not necessarily “police issues” and will either direct people to the right City services, or contact the agencies directly.
Officers do not carry noise meters (the City has its own noise enforcement personnel).
Officer training will include public relations. The goal is not to frustrate our citizens, and provide/simplify City processes. It is hoped the program will help personalize the police department and establish relationships within the community. The officers will stay with the wards they were originally assigned to, so that residents will get to know them. The officers will have business cards with cell phone numbers so people can contact them directly.
Homeless outreach. The main areas covered are Boardwalk, Pacific Avenue, and Atlantic Avenue. The police officers will work with social services to determine an individual’s issues and direct them to the appropriate services.
The discussion of the homeless situation in the City continued. Atlantic City has long been a destination for the homeless because of the abundance of social services that are available here. The City is starting to meet with the various social services providers in order to coordinate who is doing what, in order to make the processes more efficient. Additionally, the City is developing procedures to deal with the larger issues involved.
In response to a question about the Class 2 officers, it was mentioned that there are 11 officers at the Academy, with 19 others scheduled to graduate this spring. Attempts are made to keep the officers on the force and prevent attrition. It is estimated that about 75% of the officers remain on the force for at least a year. Ideally, the best way to retain the Class 2’s is to put them on a path to full-time status. It was announced that there was additional funding for the Atlantic County Police Academy, where the officers are trained.
Public Perceptions: The City is working to refute perception that AC’s crime rate is skyrocketing. Recent newspaper articles appear to highlight the negatives and ignore that in some cases, crime is generally down.
City & CRDA wants citizens to do more of the PR work? Isn’t that something they should handle?
Residents are the best ambassadors for the City; their positive stories and word of mouth can help improve perceptions. But still, PR and marketing of a destination resort is a critical function for professionals. So far, AC had over-paid for so-called professionals, getting little in return.
There is no marketing or PR department for Atlantic City. Past marketing efforts were expensive and ineffective.
The City claims to be working hard with CRDA and Special Improvement District, to produce activities and events. Sadly, both orgs have little to no experience in event marketing.
Where are some of the “real” crime problems in the City? Convenience stores are more likely to see violent crime, while rooming houses see more burglaries.
In response to questions about the rooming house problem, it was indicated that inspections and enforcement are often manpower problems. There are simply not enough personnel available to inspect every legal — let alone illegal — rooming house and then report and enforce violations.
Bicyclists and skateboarders are on the Boardwalk when they shouldn’t be. It is challenging to respect tourist families who may have smaller children with bikes, while keeping an eye out for the regular offenders.
In response to a suggestion about the trams stopping randomly, where official “stops” might be designated by the City, it was indicated that this is an L&I issue.
Shortage of mercantile officers and inspectors. Many merchants appear to be selling unlicensed merchandise, so the City is losing money. It was mentioned that Freeholder Formica has offered to help with Code Enforcement; a response by the City to this offer is expected soon.
Ron Hill provided notes for this ACprimetime analysis and summary.